Greetings from Missoula, MT friends! We are currently in Phase 1 of reopening our beautiful state. While that may be cause for celebration for some, it is also cause for increased anxiety in others. I think I am somewhere in-between and unsure how to feel about it all. I am using this collection of teachings from Namchak Khen Rinpoche to design my reopening game plan. Follow the link to watch the teachings!
He refers to the state of suffering we are in as the Suffering of Suffering, meaning that before one problem is resolved another one is piled on top. I think most of us can relate our quarantine experience to that. And if that hasn’t been our experience, most likely someone we know has experienced or is experiencing the Suffering of Suffering. We don’t have to look far to find it. As we come out of this and peel away the layers of suffering, how do we move through the Suffering of Suffering thoughtfully? Here’s my plan, and please add your ideas to the comments!
- Continue taking preventative measures and following local and state governmental guidelines, such as wearing masks when in public places, to physically protect myself, loved ones, and community. Sometimes it’s hard to decide what’s “safe” and what isn’t. If attending some type of social gathering that is deemed “safe” and following social distance guidelines still causes you overwhelming anxiety, then it’s ok to say no.
- Carefully digest the news, choose to read what is helpful for me, and make a conscious choice to stop when I know I am at my limit.
- Continue cultivating compassion for myself and others. Once we acknowledge our own suffering and give ourselves compassion, we can open our eyes and hearts to the suffering of others. For most of us there is an overwhelming desire to help in some big way. But all we can ask ourselves is, am I doing what I can with what I have? If the answer is yes, then that’s all you can do. If you can help in a monetary way, that’s great. If you can help with emotional support or by sharing food with a neighbor, that’s also great. Whatever your gifts, they are valuable, and now is the time to share them.
- Regularly check-in with my loved ones. Ask myself the uncomfortable question: How have my actions and behaviors during quarantine impacted others? Truthfully, I have some apologies to deliver and some tender discussions to have. Khen Rinpoche mentions in the teaching that the actual virus will pass, but poor behavior could permanently damage our relationships. That’s a powerful reminder. I’m guessing I’m not the only one who has acted poorly under stress at least once in the past few weeks. It’s not fun to look at those behaviors, but I hope we can all find the courage to mend the damage that may have occurred.
- Contemplate impermanence. Again and again I come back to Khen Rinpoche’s words, “This situation will pass, and we will find ourselves in a comfortable place again.”
There’s my game plan, and I hope it helps you make your own. The transition into quarantine life wasn’t easy, and the transition into a new and different world probably won’t be easy. It is my hope that a little preparation can help us all through that transition.
Sending love and light from all of us here at Namchak.